Brookhaven has approved a budget for 2014, which includes raises for city employees.
The $26.3 million budget maintains a 2.85 mill property tax, the same as in 2013.
The proposed 2014 budget went down by about $300,000 before it was adopted, mostly due to the removal of revenue that would have come from the Century Center annexation. Brookhaven dropped its bid to annex the office complex after it was approved as part of an annexation referendum into the city of Chamblee.
City Manager Marie Garrett’s contract is still under negotiation. In 2013, her salary was $170,000. The approved 2014 budget includes a total of up to $365,000 for salaries for the city manager and an assistant city manager, who has not yet been hired.
According to the city, the salary range for the assistant city manager will be between $115,000 and $155,000. That means Garrett could potentially make between $40,000 and $80,000 more in 2014.
“I expect her salary will be exceeded in the new contract because we want to incentivize her to stay,” said Mayor J. Max Davis. “Whatever is not used out of that will be addressed in mid-year budget adjustments.”
Garrett originally took the city manager position on an interim basis, but agreed to stay on board for longer.
“I think she’s saved us close to $2 million on contracts. It’s a great thing for the city and means we can put more money into services like police and parks and keep our taxes low,” said Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams.
Brookhaven City Council voted 3-1 on Dec. 17 to include 3.5 percent raises for city employees into the budget. The split vote on the budget was due to disagreements over how much should be allocated for employee raises. The proposed budget included 4 percent merit increases for employees, most of which are police officers.
Williams suggested lowering the amount to 3.5 percent.
Councilman Bates Mattison argued that a higher raise would help the city retain its police force.
“I think it’s the wrong message to send to our officers,” Mattison said of taking the number down to 3.5 percent.
Councilman Jim Eyre also supported lower merit increases.
“There’s no doubt whatsoever we support our police officers. This is about being fiscally responsible and consistent with surrounding areas,” Eyre said.